History of Christ's Gift Academy
Christ’s Gift Academy (CGA) is a response to God’s heart and his Word which proclaims that true religion is to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:27)
Christ's Gift Academy began in a humble way with only a Nursery school of 20 orphans and a few volunteers. The school was started in 1997 by Don and Nancy Richards. They had come as missionaries to Mbita in 1995 to develop a Christian Environmental Base called Kenya Island Mission (K.I.M.); now called Suba Environmental Education of Kenya (SEEK). After being here for 2 years, they desired to help the orphans and needy children in the community who were not going to school. Most of them were orphans due to HIV/AIDS which has decimated the adult population of Mbita over the past 2 decades. The children had either lost their father, or both parents, and hence, didn’t have the money to attend school. Education can be expensive in Kenya and their widowed mothers and guardians were struggling to provide for them.
Don and Nancy formed a committee made of local Kenyans from the community. This committee organized everything and started the school in a church called Chrisco. The school started with about 20 children in Nursery and Pre-primary (Pre-school and Kindergarten). Most of them were around 6-7 years old. After those first two years of Early Childhood Education, CGA had to decide what to do with these children who were ready to begin primary school. The founders spent a lot of time praying and asking God what to do next.
Judi Ewing came to Kenya as a missionary in 1999 and started preparing to open the primary school. Because Chrisco Church was small, they had to look for a larger building. CGA moved from Chrisco Church to the Baptist Church in 2000 and started the primary school with grades 1 and 2. Peter Ollimo was the first Principal of CGA.
In the year 2001, land was donated by Chief Onundo, Elisha Otieno and the Anglican Church. CGA began by building a dining hall/chapel and then classrooms. Each year CGA added a new class until a full Primary School, Nursery- 8th grade, was complete in the year 2006.
In 2004, CGA formed its own non-profit organization based in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina and moved out from underneath the umbrella of Kenya Island Mission (K.I.M.). Judi married Steve Cochran and they returned to Mbita to serve with CGA. Steve became the Manager in 2005 and together they continue to oversee the ministry. After much struggle with the District Education Board, CGA finally registered as a private primary school in Kenya in 2006. Cosmas Ongudi was the Principal during that time, followed shortly thereafter by our current principal, Mr. Gwalla.
CGA’s first graduating 8th Grade Class took their National Exams in 2006. At that time, CGA was able to begin its Secondary Sponsorship Program which helps to sponsor the students as they join various high schools throughout the country. That pioneer class took their High School National Exams in 2010. Many of them, along with many others from subsequent CGA graduating classes, are continuing their education in colleges and universities around Kenya.